On Thursday, February 16, 1995, at 2027 central standard time, a Douglas DC-8-63, N782AL, operated by Air Transport International, was destroyed by ground impact and fire during an attempted takeoff at the Kansas City International Airport, Kansas City, Missouri. The three flight crewmembers were fatally injured.
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed.
The flight was being conducted as a ferry flight under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to the CVR transcript and the sound spectrum analysis, during this first attempted takeoff, the power on the asymmetric engine was advanced so that full power on the asymmetric engine was obtained at around 100 knots, about 7 knots below the stated but incorrect Vmcg speed of 107 knots. The engine pressure ratio (EPR) of 1.5 was called 1 second before the airspeed alive (about 50 to 60 knots) call was made; followed by a call of 1.6 EPR, 1 second before the 80 knots call. Then, 90 knots was called, followed 1 second later by the 1.8 EPR (the target takeoff EPR was 1.91). One hundred knots was called 1 second later, followed by the sound of decreasing engine power, indicating the start of the rejected takeoff.
On the accident takeoff, the power on No. 4 engine was increased by the flight engineer at a more rapid rate than on the first takeoff. For instance, on the second takeoff, 1.6 EPR was called 1 second before the “airspeed alive” call (50 to 60 knots), whereas on the first takeoff, 1.6 EPR was called 1 second before 80 knots.
Shortly after the first officer called airspeed alive, there was an abrupt turn to the left, followed quickly by a correction to the right. After the first officer called “90 knots,” the airplane started to turn left again. Following the 100 knot call, the FDR revealed a pitch change, indicating that the pilot rotated the airplane about 20 knots before the target rotation speed of 123 knots.
During the second takeoff, the left drift continued, and the first officer was heard calling, “we’re off the runway.”
A directional control correction was initiated, and the pitch attitude increased just as the airplane became airborne. The airspeed reached between 120 and 123 knots. This is just about Vmca (minimum control speed air) and is also about the stall speed for that airplane weight.
The impact occurred as the airplane rolled to a nearly 90 degree left bank.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of this accident were:
- the loss of directional control by the pilot in command during the takeoff roll, and his decision to continue the takeoff and initiate a rotation below the computed rotation airspeed, resulting in a premature liftoff, further loss of control and collision with the terrain.
- the flight crew’s lack of understanding of the three-engine takeoff procedures, and their decision to modify those procedures.
- the failure of the company to ensure that the flight crew had adequate experience, training, and rest to conduct the nonroutine flight.
Contributing to the accident was the inadequacy of Federal Aviation Administration oversight of Air Transport International and Federal Aviation Administration flight and duty time regulations that permitted a substantially reduced flight crew rest period when conducting a non revenue ferry flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.